Embarrassing. Disappointing. A low point in the season.

That’s how the UCLA men’s basketball team described the last game against its crosstown rival USC, a 67-46 shellacking at the hands of the Trojans on Jan. 16 at Pauley Pavilion.

Before the game was even two minutes old, the Bruins found themselves down 7-0 thanks to two USC layups and a 3-pointer by Trojan senior guard Dwight Lewis. From there, it did not get much better for the Bruins as it was the worst home loss to USC in the history of the program.

Suffice it to say, the Bruins are looking forward to enacting a bit of revenge against their rivals on Sunday at the Galen Center, taking on a Trojan team that has been extremely difficult to beat at home this season.

“It’s our chance to go in there and take care of them,” senior forward James Keefe said. “They came into our school and played really well, outplayed us. Now it’s our turn.”

For senior guard Michael Roll and the rest of the team, the magnitude of the January loss to USC took a while to sink in. Roll admitted that right after the game he wasn’t thinking about the final score, focusing rather on certain plays during the game that led to the outcome.

Freshman forward Tyler Honeycutt said that it sunk in when he started to read the record lows the team hit and heard the reaction from fans.

Yet everyone believed that this UCLA team, standing at 11-12 overall and 6-5 in the Pac-10, has vastly improved from the 7-10 team that played against USC (14-9, 6-5) in the first game.

“Our team is a lot different just from the mindset of the players from the last game,” Roll said. “You remember we got whooped. This whole week we’re going to be preparing for it and try to remember Dwight Lewis going off on us.”

Lewis was a large part of the Trojans’ win, hitting five 3-pointers on the way to scoring a game-high 24 points. This season, Lewis leads USC in scoring, averaging 13.3 points per game in what UCLA coach Ben Howland termed “his best season.”

“He’s one of the best players in our conference,” Howland said. “When we’re in man or zone (defense), we’re going to have to really know where he is and do a good job of getting out on him.”

The issue of what defense UCLA goes with will play a crucial role. In the first game, the Bruins used a combination of both man and zone defenses. On Sunday, the Bruins will primarily play zone, a defense the team has been steadily improving.

“We’re just going to have to focus on their main threats a lot more, and hopefully it’ll work out,” freshman forward Reeves Nelson said.

Another one of those threats would be USC sophomore forward Nikola Vucevic, who is averaging 11.8 points per game this season and leads the Pac-10 with 9.8 rebounds per game.

Rebounding has been an ongoing issue for the Bruins throughout the season. Howland attributes part of the problem to the Bruins only sending two players to the offensive glass because it is more difficult to transition back into a zone defense than man.

“We’re going to have to play our very best game of the year to have a chance to win,” Howland said. “It’s really clear, and I think our players understand that as well. They’re a good team, and they’ve been very good on their home floor this year.”

Sunday’s game marks the start of a stretch in which the Bruins play five of their final seven games on the road. Despite the difficult schedule to round out the regular season, the Bruins emphasized that the upcoming game is the only thing on their minds at the moment.

“This is one of the games you circle before you even play your first preseason game,” Honeycutt said. “You always want to beat your rival team, no matter what conference you’re in ““ high school, middle school, whatever it is.”